Project Manager, Sales Operations Improvement
Mobilizing for the future of marketing
As the U.S. begins to slowly reopen, Alliant is wrapping up coverage on the marketing industry’s pandemic response. We’ve examined both stats and success stories, and in this third installment we look ahead, with actionable ideas to keep moving forward. While we expect to see some changes phase out in the coming months, others are here to stay. To make the most of these shifts, here are some lessons and ideas to help maintain — and innovate — the ways we do business.
What’s changed for now?
Brands shifted marketing strategies and messaging, offering empathy, help and giving back. While initially effective for brands to continue marketing through crisis, more recently consumers have expressed feeling “covid-washed”. Overly sympathetic, or operating from a predictable template, some messaging is coming across as inauthentic.1 On the other hand, some brands have focused on action above empathic messaging, which has earned them praise and, more important, loyalty. As we approach “opening” the country and marketers resume “normal” messaging and promotions, they will still need to be vigilant about tone and execution in upcoming campaigns.
Key marketing channels have also shifted, with brands creatively pivoting to find their audience. Social media platforms proved to be essential in recreating consumer experiences previously found in events or in-store. Not able to host this year’s annual Grand Prix, Formula One racing hosted a virtual event featuring professional drivers, distributed via Twitch, Facebook, YouTube, and the Sky Sports channel to hundreds of thousands of viewers.2 Direct mail is another channel with renewed interest, meeting consumers where they are — at home. Those who have continued to mail have reaped the benefits of well-executed mail pieces, setting their brand apart during a time when competitors may be pausing mailings. In coming months marketers will need to continue innovating with virtual events, social, and direct mail — while being creative in reintegrating channels such as out-of-home, in-store and experiential.
What’s changed for good?
Virtual experiences are here to stay — enriching workplaces and consumer experiences across sectors. Team interaction and execution have been impacted forever, spurring more thoughtful communication and efficient campaign implementation. Experiences curated for consumers have provided connection and convenience, positioning adaptable brands ahead of their competitors. While the dining room may be closed to customers, Chipotle launched a series of daily "Chipotle Together" sessions on Zoom, virtually bringing together thousands of fans and celebrity guests such as Rob Gronkowski.
Marketers are also predicting continued adoption of direct-to-consumer and subscription-based business models. Marissa Allen, managing director at WPromote, noted that this shift includes large manufacturers, who will invest in their own DTC channels to be less reliant on third-party retailers, like Amazon. “There was already a trend in large manufacturers like Nike and Whirlpool to sell more [DTC], but this will expedite progress,” she said.4
Capitalizing on change
Market change happens. Channels will shift, teams will adapt, and customers will engage — or not. In talking with clients, Alliant’s team has identified several practices that seem appropriate for many marketers as they attempt to make the most of their environment. Here are some actionable ideas to inform your next moves:
Focus on CRM: In an unsettled market it makes sense to shift some marketing resources away from acquisition of new customers and double down on your CRM. Look to both your active and inactive customer base for messaging and growth opportunities. Cross sell to existing customers, execute a gift campaign, or reactivate unengaged customers. These approaches, when executed thoughtfully, reduce risk and initial investment and can have high return. Even if sales don’t shift significantly, the effort to keep consumers engaged will pay off in the long run.
Revise Channel Mix: This has also been a surprisingly good time to think about how distinct channels can work together as one. Think about putting the same promotion in the mail and on social. Try pairing a programmatic campaign with addressable TV. Test new channels carefully with extra attention to audience targeting. While direct mail and TV may assure you are reaching consumers at home, experiment with aligning test strategies across channels — with select audiences who have a propensity for your product or service.
Monitor New Customers: If your company recently experienced a surge of new customers, now is the time to start assessing their value. Understand which channels they came from and think about how you can increase your engagement with them as “reopening” plays out. Use propensity and lifetime value models to gain insight on who is worth intensive effort, and who isn’t. Many consumers may continue to be loyal beyond the pandemic, but some may return to old habits. Getting ahead of this will help you determine how to provide exceptional value — and to whom — and continue to build relationships that last.
Looking to turn these tips into action? The Alliant team is always here to help. We’re curious to hear what your plans are for the remainder of the year, as we shift to new forms of collaboration and marketing execution. Our Audience Help Desk offers expedited response times to help with all of your audience targeting needs — in all channels — as you realign for Q3 and beyond.
- Leading With Action Can Reduce The Risk Of A ‘COVIDwashing’ Backlash, https://www.adexchanger.com/data-driven-thinking/covidwashing/
- Marketing’s Vital Role in Tackling the COVID-19 Pandemic, https://themasb.org/marketings-vital-role-in-tackling-the-covid-19-pandemic/
- Brands recalibrate to community-building during quarantine, https://www.marketingdive.com/news/brands-build-community-online-quarantine/575340/
- Updated Retail Outlook: 10 New Predictions for 2020, https://www.adweek.com/retail/updated-retail-outlook-10-new-predictions-for-2020/